Friday, 20 April 2007

Council orders staff to remove DCH posters

The South London Press have run the following story today, alongside two others about Lambeth Housing.

Housing vote posters pulled
“Say NO to ALMO” messages upset Town Hall

This is the poster council chiefs don’t want you to see. Caretakers on estates across Lambeth have been ordered to replace them with those supporting the council’s attempt to transfer the running of its housing stock.

Lambeth has made a bid to central government to create a private company, known as an Almo (Arms Length Management Organisation) that would be able to draw up to £200million in funding to improve homes.

But critics say the move is a step towards privatisation of council services and the money should be found elsewhere.

In an email seen by the South London Press, Almo project co-ordinator Roneeta Chand asks her staff to check caretakers have put up posters supporting the council and removed those from opposition group, Defend Council Housing.

She writes: “We have noticed that there are still a few Defend Council Housing posters around the borough, demonstrating opposition to the Almo and providing residents with misl;eading information.

“Can you please see that these are removed as a matter of priority.”

Ms Chand sent out 410 pro-Almo posters to estates around the borough last week.

Unison rep Heenal Rajani of Lambeth’s Defend Council Housing group, said tenants needed to be balloted on the issue after an “honest and open debate”.

He said: “Defend Council Housing would never dream of removing the council’s posters.

“Lambeth residents have a right to know that opposition to the Almo exists and a right to hear both sides of the argument.”

A council spokeswoman said: “It is a nonsense to suggest that Lambeth council does not allow residents access to independent and non-biased information about the proposed Almo.

“These posters sites are for the sole purpose of the council or for other organisationswith council permission only.”

She said the council had a policy allowing official union material on designated staff noticeboards and that the Defend Council Housing posters did not fall within the bounds of the policy.

She said people wanting more information about the Almo should call 0800 317 066.

The following Friday’s edition featured two letters responding to the article, one from Lambeth Defend Council Housing and one from UNISON.